Earlier we outlined three flavours of thought leadership: Industry, Product and Organizational. Here you’ll learn more about each type, and how to select the optimal mix for your company.
Industry Thought Leadership
Standing out in your industry is the aim of many thought leadership programs. But what exactly does this mean and how do you achieve this goal?
At a minimum, it means you need to focus on the news, trends and forces shaping the market(s) you serve. Then you need to develop and share innovative thoughts and insights about those dynamics with your audience. Just remember to keep your audience in mind, whether prospects, customers, analysts, or others. Clearly spell out how your ideas surface newfound opportunities, provide an alternative path to success, or offer a novel approach to solving an entrenched problem. We’d go so far as to say you should develop a contrarian point of view. After all, what’s the value in hearing someone agree with what’s happening in a particular industry? A good rule of thumb: don’t just rehash what’s being said—recalibrate people’s thinking with a fresh perspective.
Product Thought Leadership
Once you’ve defined a new—and let’s face it – the best way for companies in a certain industry to go about business, you want to give them the means to get from point A to point B. Ideally, your products (or services) are the vehicle for taking them down this better path. To help your audience understand how this vision can become reality, share best practices, strategic roadmaps, practical how-to and other information that shows your product’s potential for transformation. The content and ideas you share are the “evidence” of your thought leadership and can inspire others to partner with your company.
Organizational Thought Leadership
Your thought leadership should reflect your company’s vision, innovations
and uniqueness. In other words, it should mirror your organization’s culture. We could go a step further and say it should drive your company’s culture. No matter how you look at it, your thought leadership and culture need to be in sync for your thought leadership to take flight. Take this example: Five years ago, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings published a 126-page slide deck outlining how he hires, fires and rewards employees. The level of insight into the inner workings of a company’s culture was unprecedented, and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has since said the
SlideShare “may well be the most important document ever to come out of the (Silicon) Valley.” It’s a very forward-thinking approach to thought leadership that set off a movement for others to follow in Netflix’s footsteps.
More than 14 million views 1 later, Hastings’ “Netflix Culture” has spurred
a conversation among business leaders that’s at the backbone of every organization: What is, or should be, a company’s culture? How do you create the perfect workplace? How do you attract and retain top talent that is the lifeblood of your company? Indeed, dozens of organizations, from
Spotify and New York University to HubSpot and Fab.com, have followed
suit. What was once more abstract theory has become transparent, documented constitutions to live and work by.